What is Xerostomia?
Xerostomia is one of the key symptoms of Sjogren's Syndrome and it can be defined as the subjective sensation of oral dryness that may or may not be associated with a reduction in salivary output.
Xerostomia affects 25% of the population in North America and is becoming one of the fastest-growing oral health problems there. More than 90% of xerostomia cases are caused by medications - people are currently taking more medications than in the past.
What will the decrease in saliva lead to?
- Difficulty in swallowing and talking
- Increase in incidence of dental decay
- Oral mucosal problems
What are some of the signs that you should pay attention to?
Some of the signs that the dentists usually found in their patients range from increased caries, gingivitis, cracking and fissuring of the tongue and the absence of saliva. Some patients will have bad breath (halitosis), sticky saliva, and altered sense of smell & taste.
Can Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) be cured?
At this point of time, there is still no cure for patients with dry mouth (xerostomia). However, you can perform some simple management strategies including:
- Using fluoride toothpaste
- Brushing your teeth at least 4 times daily after each meal and before bedtime
- Rinsing and wiping oral cavity immediately after meals
- Applying fluoride gel at bedtimes as prescribed
- Avoiding citrus juices (oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes)
- Avoiding liquids and foods with high sugar content
- Using moisturizers regularly on the lips
Most importantly, a preventive 6-monthly dental check up is essential.
For more information on the Sjogren's Syndrome Club, click here.
You can also listen to Dr Ho Kok Sen's interview on "Managing Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)" by clicking here.